Monday, March 30, 2009

Line War

Ooh, nice to see Line War (paperback) up on the Amazon Science Fiction Bestseller list - as of 1.00pm today it was sitting at number 3. But then they do tend to leap up the charts prior to publication.

Note: Line War in paperback is out on April 3rd, along with the hardback The Shadow of the Scorpion! All my books can also be purchased through the Pan Macmillan website where there's presently a 3 for 2 deal:

To celebrate Tor’s attendance at Sci-Fi-London 2009 we are offering 3-for-2 on selected SF and Fantasy books and ebooks. From the hottest new SF and Fantasy books to legendary backlist titles, this fantastic deal will run for a short time only so snap them up. Don't forget, all the books listed here are included in this massive offer so feel free to pick and mix.

Friday, March 27, 2009

New Covers WOW!

As I believe I mentioned on here before, Macmillan have decided to produce new covers for the first four of my books. I guess they thought it about time what with, for example, Gridlinked now in its twelfth print run. Here are two of them. Please let me know what you think!

Both of these images are a mere blink away from what I was seeing in my fevered mind. Brilliant work Mr Jon Sullivan.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Looking for a Sleer

Somewhere I've got a picture of a sleer, but I can't find the damned thing. However, I did find some of my other weird shit. In about 1997 (I think) I joined an art class where it was all still lifes and figures which, though fun, was not what I started out drawing. After that class when I sat down with a pencil I returned to drawing what I liked. Here's a few samples:

Sails - Bob Lock

Here's another one from Bob Lock. And here's a review of his book.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Shadow of the Scorpion in French.

Nice missive here from the Rights Manager at Pan Macmillan, Liz Johnson. She’s delighted to report that Bénédicte Lombardo, at Fleuve Noir (French Publisher) is keen to publish SHADOW OF THE SCORPION.

This will doubtless be as either large format or hardcover or both, then in mass market paperback edition in their Pocket imprint, and there’s also likely to be an e-book, since they have those rights too.
This is all scheduled for 2010.

Now I much look forward to seeing what sort of cover they come up with for this, since Flueve Noir has turned out some stunners.

Thanks B

Glister2 - Vaude

Vaudeviewgalor Randisraisins asked me if glisters possessed antennae, my tardiness in replying resulted in the previous picture, but now, after

And I was just about to reply to you with this from The Skinner:

The second male glister flicked clumps of hairlike organs on its head, registering the tail-end of a low-pitched squeal in what served it as ears, but so stupified was it by its current pleasure in gustation that it could not identify the sound. Perhaps this was understandable, since never having heard a brother’s death-squeal before. Waving its antennae, it detected only an overwhelming taste of whelk, but that was perfectly understandable – so many of them having recently been torn apart in the vicinity. It gave a lobsterish shrug, and went to take
another bite of the wonderful bounty of flesh strewn before it. The wall of flesh that rolled over it and its meal, as well as uninvited leeches and prill, was as yeilding as old oak – the the great mouth behind just hoovered them all up.

we have antennae!

Art Competition Decision

Caroline, being quite impressed by the entries I’m receiving for this art competition, said she might have a go at drawing an entry. First we discussed Sniper, then she decided against it when I asked which drone shell she would go for. Next we talked about Mr Crane, but she admitted to not being very good at faces. But no problem, since she sees him standing with his face shaded by his hat. Yes, I enthused, he could have his hat casting a shadow across half his face, whilst he stands there in his long coat and lace-up boots, maybe some intestines he’d ripped out dangling from one brass hand, or he could even be holding a human head he’d just ripped off, blood dripping on the floor. Caroline decided she’d draw a bunny rabbit.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

SF Taboo.

Asked the question on Mind Meld:

Once upon a time, sf/f was full of taboos: no swearing, no sex, etc. We're thankfully past those days, but are there any taboos still remaining or new ones that have sprung up? Have you ever had trouble with publishing something, or caught yourself self-censoring?

I found myself at a bit of a loss but, came up with this answer:

Well, every writer has had trouble getting stuff published, but probably because they breached the publishing world taboo of writing crap. For me, beyond 2000 when I was taken on by Macmillan, I've been censored all the time in that respect - it's called editing. But no, I don't really have much trouble getting stuff published and I don't self censor ... except all the time in regard to that first publishing taboo. Doubtless, in years to come some minority group lobby will run out of larger targets and focus its attention on SF books, and then violence, drinking, smoking and excessive consumption of beefburgers will be a no no. I just hope I'm in a position to give them the finger by then.

Other writers and those commenting have produced other answers over here. Some people might even find all this interesting. I have to add that I do self censor here -- in fact I did it in the last sentence.

Shadow of the Scorpion Competition.

There's a competition over at Geekplanet to win a copy of Shadow of the Scorpion. Note that the competition ends on April 3rd (interestingly the publication date of the British edition - I'm just saying, that's all).

This is going to be one of our simplest competitions. All you need to do is sign up, email your username, name and address to \n This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ?subject=Doctor Who Series 4"> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it with 'SCORPION COMPETITION' in the topic title. We'll pick five winners by the 3rd April and contact the winners then.

Geekplanet Review

Nice review here at Geekplanet of Shadow of the Scorpion...

Beginning with Gridlinked, and continuing most recently with Line War, Neal Asher’s stories of Agent Ian Cormac have garnered some good reviews. Despite this, and despite my weakness for space opera, they’ve nevertheless remained under my radar. Shadow of the Scorpion is a prequel, outlining the origin story of the series’ protagonist. This being my first foray into the world of the Polity, I can’t tell you how it compares to the other books, but from the perspective of a new reader I can assure you I’m hooked.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Glister - Vaude

Vaudeviewgalor Randisraisins' glister:

heres the final. no input so the antennae stay off. i cant get them to look menacing enough to be a spatterjay type threat. also wouldnt they just get hacked off every few days. eyes on stalks also which can be a hazard there too. eh. rough call without it being like a pal/doll. it's of no ultimate consequence as my talents pale to the super comic rpg type lad, Mr. Mendez, an obvious pro. that last gabbleduck was amazing too. was hopin to tackle that one next. jabberwock/Pnume plume competition.

Earth Central Trooper - Peter Nugent

Earth Central Foot Trooper:

Dear Neal Asher

Please find attached my entry for your art competition. I'm a complete amateur when it comes to drawing, very rarely going further than covering my log books in doodles, but I had a go at drawing what I imagine an Earth Central foot trooper might look like in some all purpose armour. I never realise how hard it would really be to design such a piece of kit, having to think how the plates fit together and not to hinder movement too much but I think I came out with something good! Also included is an APW, which was also a bitch to do, so much blank space to fill with details!

Keep up the good work with your books!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Mr Crane - Bob Lock

Bob Lock's Mr Crane.

Hi Neal,

Here's a collage I've done of Mr.Crane. I can't draw for the life of me
but enjoy messing around in Photoshop so took bits and pieces from
around the web and voilà here he is.


Friday, March 20, 2009

Gabbleduck - Robert McGregor

Here's another one:

Please accept this as a submission for your drawing contest. My father and I are great fans of your books and between us we own just about all of them with the exception of The Gabble, Orbus and Shadow of the Scorpion. I have a hunch that your depiction of AI will influence some young reader, somewhere, to actually set about making such things possible some day! Hurray!

Consider yourself held responsible for our collective fates.

HA HA HA.........(only partially joking.......)


Mr Crane - Carlos Mendez

Here's another one from Carlos Mendez. Comments please! Incidentally, I'll put the picture title and artist's name in the titles of these posts from now on.

Artist's Comments
This is another piece inspired on Neal Asher's books. It's a mad Golem Android called Mr. Crane...

The words "Golem Android" evoke to me something technologically very advanced (an android with an AI) but at the same time something classic-old fashioned (something with a medieval air...a Golem...). That's why I tried to give it a "mechanic look"...with those clockwork-like wheels and all...

I have to admit it...Jack Kirby was one of my greatest influences...and Jim Steranko (who was clearly inspired by Kirby...) and Mike Mignola (who is also influenced by Kirby) ...and Paul Gulacy (who was very influenced by Steranko...ok, ok, ....Steranko was influenced by...Kirby...!)

Life in the 1500s.

I wonder how much of this is apocryphal:

The next time you are washing your hands
and complain because the water temperature isn't just how you like it, think about how things used to be. Here are some facts about the 1500's:

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and still smelled pretty good by June. However, they were starting to smell, so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor. Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the
nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. Hence the saying, ‘Don't throw the baby out with the Bath water.’

Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs)
lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof. Hence the saying, ‘It's raining cats and dogs.’

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and
other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That's how canopy beds came into existence.

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the saying, ‘Dirt poor’.

The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter
when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed across the lower part of the doorway. Hence, ‘a thresh hold’.

(Getting quite an education, aren't you?)

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle
that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while. Hence the rhyme, ‘Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old’.

Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off.
It was a sign of wealth that a man could, ‘bring home the bacon’. They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and ‘chew the fat’.

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle,
and guests got the top, or the ‘upper crust’.

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of holding a wake.

is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the ...graveyard shift.) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be ‘saved by the bel, or was considered a ‘dead ringer’.

And that's the truth...Now, whoever said History was boring?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Sketches: Gabbleduck

Here's a couple of sketches of the gabbleduck from Pekka Jonsson who, incidentally, started off the bookshelf craze here. Definitely getting there with the shape of the head (though the eyes need to be more integrated) and the 'feel' of the things, though too anthropomorphic, especially about the back legs.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Polity Books

I just got an email from someone who was reading Hilldiggers and wanted to know which books precede it. I often get asked about which book fits where so here, so I can copy a link rather than type out the list each time, is the chronology and order of the books in each series:

Prador Moon

The Shadow of the Scorpion (young Cormac)

The Cormac Series:

1) Gridlinked

2) The Line of Polity

3) Brass Man

4) Polity Agent

5) Line War

The Spatterjay Series:

1) The Skinner

2) The Voyage of the Sable Keech

3) Orbus


The Gabble -- a collection of short stories set throughout the above chronology.

And here's where they all fit in the dateline:

2050 – 2250 Expansion into the solar system. Corporate wars and many generation ships, or early U-space drive ships sent on their way. Also the AI takeover of human affairs, in the ‘Quiet War’. Colony ship to Cull in this time.2130 – Hoop and crew arrive on Spatterjay (mutiny – stolen ship)
2150 – Establishing of Golem series and Cybercorp.
2151 – Algin Tenkian born on Mars.
2190 – Skaidon interfaces with AI and invents the technology leading to the runcible and more efficient U-space engines. Humanity expands into the galaxy.
2260 – First runcible goes online.
2260 – 2350 Massive human expansion into the galaxy.
2348 – Beginning of the Prador Third Kingdom
2339 – Ian Cormac born
2310 – Prador Moon
2310 – 2350 Prador/Human war (Prador Moon)
2350 – Polity police action on Spatterjay.
2356 – Keech is killed hunting Alphed Rimsc
2407 – Disappearance of Dragon from Aster Colora.
2432 – Destruction of the Samarkand runcible.
2434 – Arrival of Hubris at Samarkand (Gridlinked)
2437 – Destruction of Outlink station Miranda (The Line of Polity)
2441 – Pursuit of Skellor (Brass Man)
2443 – Tracing the cource of Jain nodes (Polity Agent)
2444 – Attack of melded entity Erebus (Line War)
2450 – Gosk Balem (Ambel) thrown into the sea – 100 years after war.
2500 – David McGrooger born
2550 – Keech finds Corbel Frane on Viridian – 500 years before
2803 – Polity arrives at Spatterjay to establish runcible base
2853 – Frisk hands herself in (apparently). – 200 years before
2878 – Bloc murdered by Aesop and Bones
3056 – Keech Janer and Erlin arrive on Spatterjay (The Skinner)
3078 – Taylor Bloc’s ship launches (The Voyage of the Sable Keech)
3079 – Orbus sets out (Orbus)
3230 – McCrooger arrives at Bromal and Sudoria (Hilldiggers)

Hope this helps!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

BFPO 2006

Here's the last few post transferred over from my website.

7th February 2006

Just back from a few days in Berlin. The incredibly low temperatures there were an experience not to be missed in themselves (check out one picture in the gallery). Neither of us have seen a river frozen over, for real, for longer than we can remember. We also took a look at the Reichstag, the Brandenberg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie and the museum there. We rode around on the trams, U-bahn, S-bahn all of which were cheaper, more efficient and cleaner than anything found in Britain. Another impressive aspect of Berlin, which I hope applies to all of Germany, was how polite and helpful people were. We only had to stop for a few minutes to study a map before someone approached us to ask if they could be of any help -- something you don't see happening in London. Hannes Riffel, an SF bookshop owner there was a very nice guy to meet, too. He is obviously enthusiastic and knowledgeable about his trade and all things science fiction & fantasy, and keeps an excellent selection on his shelves. Go there, buy there!

19th February 2006
Well, The Voyage of the Sable Keech was launched on the 16th and of course far too much beer was consumed. Thanks to Macmillan for the hospitality. Also my thanks to the guys at the Forbidden Planet Bookshop in London for having me along for a signing session, which seemed to go very well. Now here's you chance to win some copies of said book, and others, and to play the Sable Keech game!

1st October 2006

All within two weeks and a nice start to the new year: My short story Mason's Rats has been taken by David G Hartwell & Kathryne Cramer for their Year's Best SF 11, and I've since been contacted by Gardner Dozois who wants another story published in Asimov's -- Softly Spoke the Gabbleduck -- for his 'Year's Best' anthology. And now I discover I've made it to the shortlist of the Philip K Dick Award.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sketches: Nautiloid & Prador 2nd Child.

Here's some rough sketches of Sniper's nautiloid drone body and a Prador second-child from one of the competition entrants. Suggestions please.

Update (24/2/10): Some misunderstandings arising about these. I (Neal Asher) did not sketch them. They were done by someone entering the art competition I was running.

Sketch: Mr Crane

Here's a rough sketch of Mr Crane by Phil Edwards (Live for Film). Suggestions please.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

New Space Opera 2.

With publication time coming soonish, and with the information already out, here’s the final table of contents for The New Space Opera 2.

1. “Utriusque Cosmi”, Robert Charles Wilson
2. “The Island”, Peter Watts
3. “Events Preceding the Helvetican Renaissance”, John Kessel
4. “To Go Boldly”, Cory Doctorow
5. “The Lost Princess Man”, John Barnes
6. “Defect”, Kristine Kathryn Rusch
7. “To Raise A Mutiny Betwixt Yourselves”, Jay Lake
8. “Shell Game”, Neal Asher
9. “Punctuality”, Garth Nix
10. “Inevitable”, Sean Williams
11. “Join The Navy and See the Worlds”, Bruce Sterling
12. “Fearless Space Pirates of the Outer Rings”, Bill Willingham
13. “From the Heart”, John Meaney
14. “Chameleons”, Elizabeth Moon
15. “The Tenth Muse”, Tad Williams
16. “Cracklegrackle”, Justina Robson
17. “The Tale of the Wicked”, John Scalzi
18. “Catastrophe Baker and a Canticle for Leibowitz”, Mike Resnick
19. “The Far End of History”, John C. Wright

The book is due out from HarperEos in the United States and HarperCollins Publishers in Australia this coming July.

IRA Plonkers.

So, we have the ‘Continuity IRA’ and the ‘Real IRA’. You know, if they weren’t killing people this would almost be funny. Doesn’t all this remind you of something out of The Life of Brain

BRIAN: Are you the Judean People's Front?

REG: Fuck off!
BRIAN: What?
REG: Judean People's Front. We're the People's Front of Judea! Judean People's Front. Cawk.
FRANCIS: Wankers.
BRIAN: Can I... join your group?
REG: No. Piss off.

Isn't it a shame that some people's existence only relates to the past, and never the future.

Shadow, Line & Orbus.

Oh I do like receiving parcels from Macmillan...

Night Session -- Ken Macleod.

I think the last Ken Macleod book I read was either Star Fraction or The Cassini Division and Night Sessions definitely won’t be my last. It only took a few pages before I felt something loosening up in my chest because the pages were speeding past and I knew I was in safe hands. This was a thoroughly engaging tale, despite the ‘oops’ moments.

Though this book is great science fiction, it is also a demonstration of how there ain’t nothing that dates so quickly as science fiction. Here we have, as an essential plot driver, medical technology based wholly on embryonic stem cells – a route already being abandoned for adult stem cells. We also have global warming of the Gore/Hansen school - abandoned by the first for carbon trading profit, and preached with such hysteria by the second that a man in a white coat is edging closer, a syringe full of Thorazine concealed behind his back. But of course we must never forget this is fiction.

I think I was hooked properly the moment a main character peered out of his aeroplane window to observe a space elevator and, despite the SFX quote on the front ‘The modern-day George Orwell’ I found this very optimistic in tone. The victory of secularism over religion could be described as extreme optimism, and the sfnal future full of such great techno toys to play with is another form – Macleod did an excellent job of projecting how information technology might be used by a future police force, and really, you gotta love the lead detective’s three-limbed robot called Skulk (short for Skullcrusher). A worthwhile read, this.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Shadow Reviews.

Lot’s of nice things being said out there about Shadow of the Scorpion. Here, in no particular order, is a sampling of some of the reviews I’ve come across:

Curled up with a Good Book

Shadow of the Scorpion is fast-paced, with plenty of action, as are Asher’s other scintillating Polity books. Whether you’re already a Polity and Neal Asher fan or are a newbie who enjoys well-written sci_fi, you’re sure to enjoy this fine, action-filled novel. I can hardly wait for the next forthcoming Polity novel, Orbus, to hit bookstores.

Walker of Worlds

As for the story itself, another winning combination of character development, aliens, action and political undertones. If you like Neal's other stuff then this is a novel you can't miss, but it's also an ideal step on point for those new to Neal's work. I thought this was one of Neal's best to date, and if this is any indication of what to expect from the next few novels, we're all in for a real treat.

Cool Shite on the Tube, Literature review

The roundup? A good, fast-moving, active SF yarn with some interesting ideas woven through it. Worth reading, and worth buying.

Mark Chitty at SFFworld

As for the story itself, another winning combination of character development, aliens, action and political undertones. If you like Neal's other stuff then this is a novel you can't miss, but it's also an ideal step on point for those new to Neal's work. I thought this was one of Neal's best to date, and if this is any indication of what to expect from the next few novels, we're all in for a real treat.

Vast Cool and Unsympathetic

Shadow of the Scorpion is well worth reading for any fan of Neal Asher, action stories, vivid far-future societies, or examinations of some of the questions raised by technologies to reshape the human mind. I think you’ll get more out of it if you’re already familiar with Ian Cormac and the Polity (Gridlinked would be the place to start there), but it is a self-contained story that stands well on its own. I highly recommend it, and I hope Nightshade continues to bring this sort of book to the U.S.

Book Calender

This novel is very dark. It asks a lot of philosophical questions. What divides humans from machines? How can we maintain our freedom and individuality in an artificial world? Combined with the philosophical questions are all out fast paced action sequences. The artificial intelligences come across as more human than humanity. I had a hard time putting this novel down.

Green Man Review

Of course, it's still Asher, so this mission still involves terrorists with anti-matter weapons capable of blowing away large chunks of planet, incredibly durable crab-like aliens capable of shrugging off a hit from heavy artillery, and more alien ecologies and far-future technologies than you can shake a stick at.

There's little praise I can lay on this that won't be recycled from previous Polity novel reviews. It's Asher; it's good. Recommended for anyone who's a fan of the series or of good hard science fiction in general.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Aftermath -- Peter Robinson.

This begins with the discovery of a house like Fred West’s, touches on the political farce and travesty of justice that was the Tony Martin case (though under a different name) with reference to a police officer being pilloried under the ‘criminals are victims’ dogma, and truly does live up to its title. The aftermath is that of child abuse, of the hunt for a serial killer, of the separation of the leading character from his wife … but then everything is, in some sense, an aftermath.

Inspector Banks here combines aspects of many who’ve gone before: Frost, Dalgleish, Morse (well, he listens to classical music), and it’s always nice to discover another police procedural to enjoy and another detective to add to that growing list. This could be done really well on television, supposing ITV ever has the money to spare and both it and the BBC ever lose interest in preaching political correctness and the joys of multiculturalism. But meanwhile I’ll have to content myself with the knowledge that there’s another eleven Inspector Banks’ books to read, which suits me fine.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

2. Calling all Artists!

Regarding the earlier post about an art competition, here's a scattering of gabbleduck descriptions:

It wasn’t long before I saw something galumphing through the grasses with the gait of a bear, though on Earth you don’t get bears weighing in at about a thousand kilos. Of course I recognised it, who hasn’t seen recording of these things and the other weird and wonderful creatures of that world? The gravcar view drew lower and kept circling above the creature. Eventually it seemed to get bored with running, halted, then slumped back on its rump to sit like some immense pyramidal Buddha. It opened its composite forelimbs into their two sets of three ‘sub-limbs’ for the sum purpose of scratching its stomach. It yawned, opening its big duck bill to expose thorny teeth inside. It gazed up at the gravcar with seeming disinterest, some of the tiara of green eyes arcing across its domed head blinking as if it was so bored it just wanted to sleep.

A poor looking specimen, about the size of a Terran black bear, its head was bowed low, the tip of its bill resting against the ground. Lying on the filthy stone beside it were the dismembered remains of something obviously grown hastily in a vat – weak splintered bones and watery flesh, tumours exposed like bunches of grapes. While Jael watched, the gabbleduck abruptly hissed and heaved its head upright. Its green eyes ran in an arc across its domed head, there were twelve or so of them: two large egg-shaped ones towards the centre, two narrow ones below these like underscores, two rows of small round ones arcing out to terminate against two triangular ones. They all had lids – the outer two blinking open and closed alternately. Its conjoined forelimbs were folded mummy-like across the raised cross-hatch ribbing of its chest, its gut was baggy and veined, and purple sores seeped in its brown-green skin.

The creature was sitting in a stand of flute grass and in this pose its body was pyramidal. Its three pairs of forelimbs were folded monkishly over the jut of its lower torso, one fore-talon of one huge black claw seemingly beating time to some unheard song. Its domed head was tilted down, its duck bill against its chest. Some of its tiara of emerald eyes were closed. Obviously it was taking time out to digest its latest meal, the bones of which lay neatly stacked beside it.

The big gabbleduck was lolloping through the flute grasses.

“Moves like a grizzly bear,” he observed.

She marched forwards and round until she was standing directly in front of the creature. It was indeed massive: folds of flesh hanging down from its body and almost concealing its powerful rear limbs. When it moved through the flute grasses its three sets of two forelimbs slotted neatly together to form two composite forelimbs so it seemed to run on all fours like, as Jonas had observed, a bear. Now those forelimbs were folded on its chest, and sat like this it seemed some immense alien Buddha.

Its head was level with me. Anders chose that moment to groan and I quickly slapped my hand over her mouth. The creature was pyramidal, all but one of its three pairs of arms folded complacently over jut of its lower torso. In one huge black claw it held the remains of a sheq. With the fore-talon of another claw, it was levering a trapped bone from the white holly-thorn lining of its duck bill. The tiara of green eyes below its domed skull glittered.

The arm folded out and out. The wrongness I felt about it, I guess, stemmed from the fact that it possessed too many joints. A three-fingered hand, with claws like black scythes, closed on the blimp anchor and pulled. Seated on the peak, the gabbleduck looked like some monstrous child holding the string of a toy balloon.

“Brong da lockock,” it said.

Scrolling the text down moved the scene along to soon reveal the creature itself: it squatted in the grasses like some monstrously insectile hybrid of Buddha and Kali, with a definite splash of Argus in the ocular region.

At this point, the gabbleduck, with its multiple arms folded on its triple-keeled chest, turned its array of green eyes upon the pious brother.

Easing herself higher, Eldene peered in the direction Fethan was pointing. In the moonlight, it did not take her long to discern that something was nosing along the edge of a patch where the grass grew thickest. All she could see for a moment was a body like a boulder and a long duck bill swinging from side to side, then the creature reared onto its hind legs, opened out its sets of forepaws from the wide triple keel of its chest, and blinked its tiara of greenish eyes as it prepared for its latest oration.

“Y’floggerdabble uber bazz zup zupper,” it stated portentously.

The gabbleduck appeared as a pyramidal monstrosity looking down on the little man.

Stanton began to bring his stolen aerofan down into thick flute grass, saw something large thundering towards him with what he felt were not the best intentions, and quickly jerked the column up and away to get out of range. A great flat beak clapped shut with a sound like a mat being beaten on concrete. He caught a glimpse of an array of glowing green eyes below a domed head, the muscled column of a body with more limbs than seemed plausible, and a whiff of quite horrible halitosis. Pulling away, he heard something that sounded like someone swearing in a quite obscure language.

Cormac observed the curving row of slightly luminous green eyes set into the white dome of the creature’s head, as it watched them move on past it. When it was upright like this, those eyes were perhaps three metres above the ground. The claws terminating its multiple forearms were the size and shape of bunches of bananas, only bananas made of obsidian and sharpened to points glinting in the morning light.

The gabbleduck was mountainous: a great pyramid of flesh squatting in the flute grasses, its multiple forearms folded across its chest, its bill wavering up and down as if it was either nodding an affirmative or nodding off to sleep. It regarded Blegg with its tiara of emerald eyes ranged below the dome of its head.

The gabbleduck stretched out one limb and opened out a hand composed of talons like black bananas.

Mika now turned to see the massive pyramidal shape of a gabbleduck, squatting right at the centre of the grated floor, its multiple forearms folded across its chest, its bill dipped onto its chest. It gazed at Dragon with a tiara of emerald eyes ranged just below the naked dome of its head, then turned slightly to fix its gaze on Mika.

Friday, March 06, 2009

BFPO 2005

Didn't post a lot on this year - it must have been a busy one, or perhaps the last paragraph explains it:

19th Dec.

On the Edge of the Sand now bears the title Prador Moon (for reasons not entirely clear to me, but then I don't have to sell the book). Polity Agent is now coming under Peter Lavery's scary pencil and I'm about 85,000 words into Hilldiggers. The Engineer ReConditioned is up for sale POD and I've learnt that the distributor (for next year), Diamond, apparently has 800 pre-orders so that's looking nice.

I'll be at Forbidden Planet in London to do a stock signing (for Sable Keech HB and Brassman PB), on Saturday 18th Feb from 1-2pm. If you want a copy signed to you, and are in the vicinity, come on in! I'll be there from about 12.30 -- to begin with probably ensconced in some dusty stock room.

I've just taken up the offer of broadband from Virgin (same price for a year as 24/7 if you were a 24/7 customer). I'm not sure this is a great idea since I've been spending too much time titting around on message boards just lately, rather than getting on with some work. Obviously this means an increase in the speed of that titting around and much else but, as I said on one of those message boards: crap increases to fill the bandwidth available.

Calling all Artists!

I’m noticing that scattering amidst the followers of this blog there’s quite a few artists so, bearing that in mind, do any of you guys or any others drifting through here fancy having a go at doing some pictures? Specifically I’m looking for scenes, characters, drones, monsters or anything else you can think of from my fiction. I’ve yet to see, for example, a depiction of a gabbleduck that matches up to what I see in my head. Here you can see two attempts at that, one the cover of The Gabble and the other from the front page of the Asimov’s that first published Alien Archaeology. Perhaps you’d like to do something from The Skinner, maybe a heirodont, ocean or land, maybe a glister or one of the varieties of whelks like the frog whelks here. Plenty of other things that can be attempted, maybe a sand hog from Brass Man with Anderson mounted up, or Mr Crane himself. There’s the spaceships too, like the Ogygian, the Jerusalem or the Cable Hogue. I leave that decision entirely up to you…

The pictures that turn up I'll display here with any links the artist wants and the three pictures (by separate artists) I judge best will each receive a free copy of Orbus when it comes out next September. If anyone comes up with that picture I'm seeking of a gabbleduck by then, that'll be worth a copy of Orbus plus copies of the rest of the Macmillan backlist of my books. My contact details can be found in 'Contacts' on my Virgin website.